Canning Apples at home in 8 Simple Steps
Nothing beats a fresh apple picked at the peak of the season. But there is a narrow window of time to enjoy them. When the farmer’s market closes, you can still eat the fruit from the grocery store, but the quality will be lower and the environmental impact higher.
Instead of settling for imports, canning apples is an easy, affordable option that will preserve your local, ripe fruit for year-round use. Even if you don’t know how to can apples you likely have most of the necessary tools in your kitchen already.
What You Need
- Large stock pot
- Wire rack that fits into your pot
- Large bowls (enough to hold your sliced apples twice over)
- Quart-size canning jars with canning lids and rings
- Jar lifter
- Chopstick or similar utensil
- Canning funnel (optional)
- Clean dish towels or wire drying racks
- Lemon or ascorbic acid
- Apples (19 pounds yields 7 quart-size jars)
Steps: How to Can Apples At home
1. Sterilize your jars
Jars and lids must be properly sterilized and free of chips and cracks. Jars and rings can be recycled from previous canning projects and re-sanitized, but lids must always be new (2). Make sure sterilization is complete before you begin preparing your apples for canning.
Always sterizilize your jars, even when canning vegetables like peppers.
2. Prep the apples
Make acidulated water baths in your large bowls using either ascorbic acid or lemon juice. If you use ascorbic acid, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for dilution; if using lemon juice, add ¾ cups of juice per gallon of water (3).
Fill each bowl half-way to the top with this mixture. Wash, peel, core, and slice the apples, placing the slices into the water. The acidulated water will keep apples from turning brown when canned.
3. Make the syrup
Syrup serves two purposes: filling in gaps between apples and keeping the fruit sweet. Mix water and sugar in a saucepan and heat until the sugar dissolves.
For thinner, less sugary syrups, mix 2 cups of sugar with 1 quart of water. For thicker syrups, increase the ratio of sugar to water (up to 1:1). Skim off any foam. If you want to avoid processed sugar, or simply prefer the taste of honey, you can substitute in 1 ½ cups of honey for every 1 cup of sugar (4).
4. Prepare the Hot Pack
Drain the apple slices and add them to your saucepan of syrup. Simmer for about five minutes, stirring occasionally. Though hot packing is an extra step some choose not to take in the canning process, Better Homes & Gardens makes a case for why it is a necessary one (3).
“…recooking apples breaks them down to eliminate air so they’re less likely to spoil and won’t float in the can. Also, more apples can fit in fewer jars and processing time is lessened because the food is already hot.” – Better Homes & Gardens
5. Fill Jars
Fill your sterilized jars (using a canning funnel if you have one), leaving about ½ inch of headspace. Remove any air bubbles with a chopstick by running it slowly up and down the interior of the filled jar, then wipe down the outside with a clean, damp cloth before placing the lid and screwing on the canning band.
Pro Tip: If you’re a frequent canner, try investing in a magnetic lid-grabber. This will make it easier to pick up individual lids when sanitizing and filling your jars.
6. Start the Boiling Water Bath
Place your metal rack in your stock pot and place the filled jars on top so water can circulate beneath them. Fill the pot with hot (not boiling) water so that the jars are completely submerged (there should be about one inch of water above the top of each jar (1)).
Slowly bring the pot up to a boil, and when the water is boiling, start your timer. Lower the temperature to maintain a gentle boil, your jars should not be rattling or jostling in the pot.
7. Process the Canned Apples
Let the jars sit in the boiling water for at least 20 minutes. Your exact processing time will depend on your elevation above sea level due to differences in atmospheric pressure (1). If you are unsure of your elevation above sea-level, you can use WhatAltitude.com to calculate your altitude based on your current location.
|Altitude||0-1000 ft||1,001-3000 ft||3,001-6,000 ft||Above 6,000 ft|
|Processing time||20 minutes||25 minutes||30 minutes||35 minutes|
8. Cool and Store
When your apples have finished processing, remove the pot from the heat and allow it to sit for five minutes (removing the jars from the hot water too quickly could cause them to crack). While the pot cools, cover your table or countertop with clean kitchen towels and/or wire racks.
Remove the jars one at a time with the jar lifter and place them on the covered counters, where they will cool for 12-24 hours. Do not tighten the jar bands at all during this time. Once 12-24 hours have passed, you can remove the bands, check that the lids are indented, and if they are, your apples are safe to store.
Any jars that did not seal (i.e., the lids did not indent) should be kept in the refrigerator and eaten in a few days (1).
Pro Tip: label your jars with contents AND the date they were canned. This will help you eat older food before it has time to spoil.
Eating fresh, local produce is an easy way to save money and reduce your carbon footprint. But it is a difficult practice to maintain during off-peak months. Canning is a sustainable, easy way to maintain access to local fruits and vegetables year-round, and apples are an excellent fruit to start with.
Keen to learn how to can and preserve more food? Learn how to can beets here.
Alex lives in the sustainability capital of Australia (Byron Bay) where the local community thrives and strongly supports self-sufficient living and green tech entrepreneurship. He began Eco Peanut in 2014 with the mission to spread bite sized sustainability advice to the masses.